There are many processes that take place within your agency that can be automated in order to help your team spend less time on non-billable administrative tasks, so they can dedicate more time to your customers.
Today I’m looking at 9 repetitive and time-consuming digital agency processes that you can automate to improve efficiency across your agency team.
As a general rule, anything related to money and payments can be made more efficient through automation. Some of the most important or most time-consuming processes include:
1) Client Billing
There are many accounting tools to help you automate the invoice creation and customer billing process. If your agency uses the billable hour model, you can use tools to automatically collate timesheets associated with your project, and use that data to create your invoices. This reduces time spent manually entering timesheet data and calculating the total cost of your project.
2) Chasing Payments
Late payments can be devastating for your cashflow. You can take the hassle out of chasing payments by automating the process, using a tool like Chaser, to automatically follow-up with a customer if they’ve not paid you a specified length of time after you sent the original invoice.
3) Project Expense Tracking
To help keep your projects on-budget, you want to make sure that any expenses relating to a particular project are automatically assigned to that project. Tools like Pulse allow you to organise your expenses by project, which can then be linked up with your resource management tool to provide you with an at-a-glance overview of whether your project is on-track or in danger of going over budget.
If your payroll is handled in-house, that means that once a month someone has to take the time to transfer everyone’s salaries. You could save that person (or team) a lot of time simply by outsourcing your payroll so that it is handled automatically by a payroll company.
Using the right tools and processes for repetitive administrative tasks can help to save you and your team time, allowing you to focus on your customers rather than emails and spreadsheets.
5) Time Tracking
When an agency first realises the need to track employee time, quite often this will be done manually by employees entering data into a spreadsheet. Using a resource management tool like Scale will cut out this repetitive data entry by enabling you to link up your timesheets with your calendar or project management tool, so that it pre-fills based on existing tasks and projects.
6) Employee Onboarding
When a new employee joins your agency there is a certain amount of information they need before they get up and running. Consider creating an employee handbook which guides your new employee through setting up agency-specific tools they may need (for example, if you’ve got a company Slack team or Trello board) and explains agency processes such as requesting holiday or calling in sick.
This is information that every new employee will need, so creating a ‘handbook’ will mean that your team isn’t having the same conversations every time a new hire joins your agency.
7) Employee Expense Tracking
Your employees will have expenses that don’t directly link to any project, such as a train ticket getting to a conference, or buying a coffee with a potential customer. If you manage this process manually, your finance team could end up with piles of crumpled receipts littering their desks, and a whole load of data entry to do at the end of each month.
However, there are a large selection of smartphone apps that can make it much easier to manage employee expenses. Employees can use the app to scan their receipts which will then notify your finance team for approval.
Obviously you need to prioritise building healthy, strong relationships with your customers. As such, the majority of your interaction with customers should be done personally and manually, but there is a selection of processes that you could automate without damaging your professional relationship.
8) Customer Nurturing
In order to monitor your customers’ success and assess the health of your customer relationships, you may wish to occasionally request feedback from them. Sending out feedback requests or satisfaction surveys can easily be automated so that they’re sent out shortly after you finish a project.
9) Lead Qualification
When you’re trying to attract new customers, you want to focus your time and energy on leads that are the best fit for your agency’s skills. An automated lead qualification process will use a lead scoring or grading to evaluate a lead’s level of interest and suitability before assigning them to a sales rep for follow-up.
During the potential customer’s initial enquiry, they should fill out a form detailing their requirements such as budget, type of work, industry and deadline. Using a tool like Hubspot you will have the ability to assign positive and negative values to form entries, which will calculate a lead score for you once they submit the form.